The pilot episode of a new anthology series entitled For the Record made its international premiere at SXSW Online 2021. For the Record opens with Angela (Anna Hopkins) and Ray (Julian De Zotti) as they divide up their beloved record collection in the aftermath of their breakup. The subsequent episodes branch off into an interconnected cast of characters, all playing into the theme of how music can often represent some of the most pivotal moments in our lives. Check out our spoiler-free review of the series here.
Along with holding a leading role, De Zotti is also the creator and writer of the series. Nerds and Beyond had a chance to chat with him about the show’s message, what inspired it, music, and what’s next for For the Record.
Nerds and Beyond: I had the chance to check out all six episodes of For the Record, and it was such a fun, feel-good watch. What inspired you to create this series? And was your plan always to tell this story in an anthology format?
Julian De Zotti: It was inspired by a breakup, and how each album in a shared record collection can mark all the moments in the life of a relationship. It started as a short film, and the proof of concept allowed us to bring on a music supervisor and his existing relationship with a major music label.
Nerds and Beyond: Do any of the places from Angela’s broken hearts tour hold a particular significance to you?
De Zotti: That was all my imagination! But I’d single out when they visit the love locks spot on the bridge. Just because I think we’ve all carved or etched the name of our true love (or infatuation) into an object at some point, so it’s here forever.
Nerds and Beyond: Are there any stories behind the selection process for the songs featured in For the Record’s soundtrack that you can share?
De Zotti: Some were just creative visions I had — a reverend getting it on to “I Feel It Coming,” a woman of certain age chugging a bottle of champagne and telling off her family, while Nina Simone underscores her. But Pet Sounds is the lynchpin — its a very personal album and also represents the theme of interconnected, timeless power that music holds. We got to know the EDM duo Zeds Dead (episode 6) really well, and we flew down to Florida to shoot live at their concert because it was important to get that authentic sensory experience that comes with “the drop” through the eyes of our very pregnant lead actress.
Nerds and Beyond: Were there additional songs that you would have liked to have used in the series, if licensing wasn’t an obstacle?
De Zotti: I think the song Ray and Angela dance to, while beautiful, was originally an Amy Winehouse song I’m obsessed with, but it was too difficult to score the rights. For episode 3, we shot two versions, one with Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” and Bob Marley’s Uprising, and rolled the dice on which one we could get the rights to. You’ll have to watch episode 3 to figure which one we got!
Nerds and Beyond: Despite the short runtime of the episodes, I found that I was very quickly absorbed in each story and engrossed in the lives of every set of characters. Do you plan to return to this series?
De Zotti: Yes, thanks to the warm reception at SXSW, we are in the midst of selling the first season to US buyers and the global market, and we also have a second season in development and hope to continue to make more, at a longer length.
Nerds and Beyond: What message do you ultimately want to convey to audiences with For the Record as a whole?
De Zotti: Music gets us through, especially now. We lean on the songs that make us feel good and ignite a sense of nostalgia. Music is also the thing that connects us and can even unite us. It has personal significance to everyone and helps express who we are. So often the songs we know and love amplify those milestone moments in our lives and elevate them into unforgettable memories. This series starts with a breakup, and it’s the people and music around them that conspires to bring these soulmates back together.
Nerds and Beyond: If you had to pick three songs for a soundtrack about your own life, what would they be?
“It’s Not Unusual” by Tom Jones. I was obsessed with Carlton Banks in high school.
“Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley. It played the night I ruined my prom. Long story.
“Juice” by Lizzo. It reminds me of dancing at a crowded house party. I miss those!